Considering the Dems’ Dilemma this Memorial Day (posted 5/30/22)

This Memorial Day, I’m feeling more contemplative than usual, which is as it should be. 

Amidst all of our recent self-inflicted troubles, I’m still appreciative of our military, and the sacrifices that they’ve made.  As a conservative, I’m feeling optimistic about the prospects of a red wave in November, and the turning point that that might offer us for at least the short- and mid-term future.

I certainly wouldn’t trade our position for that of our leftist friends, even though they still have control over both houses of congress.  And I don’t think the their recent difficulties arise primarily from the uniform repugnance of their leaders.  (Although their terribleness is pretty stunning!)  

I think their main problem – and it’s one that’s much harder to solve – is that their animating ideas are fundamentally flawed.

There’s an old quote about the difference between philosophy and ideology that goes something like this: philosophy involves adjusting your mind to the reality of the world around you, and ideology involves adjusting the reality of the world to your mind.    

I’ve been thinking about that quote a lot over the last several years, and especially over the interminable 27 years of the Biden administration.  The quote sums up for me the dilemma that elite leftists find themselves in right now: their ideology requires that they force the world to fit the mental scaffolding they’ve built, and the world is not cooperating.    

That scaffolding has been creaking and shifting as it becomes more untethered from reality, and lately nuts and bolts and pieces of pipe have begun falling off.  Soon the badly built structure will inevitably collapse, and I wonder if even then the left will recognize and admit the shoddy workmanship undergirding their failed ideology.

I’m not confident that they will, because the more reality resists their ideas, the more they double down on what’s failing. Consider a few examples.

On the economy, they raise taxes and increase regulations, and generally make it riskier, more expensive and more time consuming to start or conduct business.  When productive people and businesses flee the cities and states they control, they seem genuinely shocked – and then furious.

They do everything they can to restrict the supply of oil and natural gas – killing pipelines, hamstringing attempts to explore for oil, and then slow-walking any permit requests to drill – and when prices skyrocket, they are shocked that people are unhappy.  And they get furious.

They borrow and spend trillions (the GOP is not exactly blameless on this front, either!) while calling it “investments,” and anticipating only benefits and no costs – and are startled when inflation results. And then call for more spending.

On crime, they crack down on policing and incentivize crime by excusing criminals and minimizing punishment – and when crime skyrockets, they are caught by surprise.  And they smear anyone who notices the bodies piling up as racists.

On guns, they refuse to support harsh treatment for criminals who illegally use guns, and focus instead on trying to get guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.  When citizens resist, they are dumbfounded.  And they get furious.

On race, they insist that we’ve made no progress since slavery and Jim Crow, and they teach kids that they should judge (and hate) others because of the color of their skin.  They search for micro-aggressions and dog whistles and unconscious racism.  And when race relations get worse, they are happy.  (Which is much creepier than when they’re furious!)

On national pride, they denigrate America and sneer at patriotism, while exaggerating other countries’ virtues and our vices, and when regular people push back, or stand for the national anthem, they get furious.  

On biology, they insist that women can have penises and men can get pregnant, and that women are terribly treated in America, but also that it’s impossible to define what a woman is.   And when normal people laugh and mock them, they get furious.

A quote from the great C.S. Lewis’ treatise The Abolition of Man sums up their situation perfectly: “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Especially in light of all of the trans madness going on, that last bit seems especially, painfully applicable.

I’m optimistic, though, because our country will soon have a necessary reckoning with reality on reality’s terms.  While that reckoning is going to bring with it a lot of pain for all of us, the brunt of it is going to be borne by those who have been steadfastly denying reality. 

Which, also, is as it should be.

Rather than ending on that grim note, I’d like to point you to a great musical version of the main idea of this column.  It comes via Billy Strings, the young country/bluegrass guitar wizard that I recommended a year or more ago.  (That recommendation was for an original song of his, “Dust In a Baggie,” which you can easily find on Youtube.)  

It turns out that in the same informal session in somebody’s modest living room that produced “Dust in a Baggie,” he also played a great version of Johnny Winter’s song, “It Ain’t Nothing to Me.” 

Although the analogy isn’t perfect, I consider the grim fate awaiting the Dems in November to be analogous to the song’s theme.  On the surface, it’s a song about a foolish man’s terrible choices, and the singer who tries – unheeded – to warn him.

With any luck, the song’s last line is going to be a political epitaph for the Dem House and Senate later this year.  Because we’ve been trying to get them to change course for a long time now, and when they (please God!) reap what they’ve been sowing, I think Johnny Winter will be speaking for all of us when he wrote…

“It ain’t nothing to me.”

Enjoy the song, and have a grateful, reflective Memorial Day.

It’s been a long 27 years, and it’s only been 69 weeks.

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